Obama Loosens Cuba Restrictions, Times Applauds

White House reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Damien Cave report on President Obama abandoning already loosened restrictions on Cuban-Americans sending money and visiting the Communist country, in "Loosening Cuba Restrictions, Obama Leaves the Door Ajar for More." (More what? More loosening or more restrictions? It's the former, but the headline does leave you hanging a bit.)

What is crystal clear is that the reporters approve of Obama's move and oppose the "hard line" "conservatives" who favor tougher restrictions.

In abandoning longstanding restrictions on the ability of Cuban-Americans to visit and send money to family members on the island,President Obamademonstrated Monday that he was willing to open the door toward greater engagement with Cuba- but at this point, only a crack.

The announcement represents the most significant shift in United States policy toward Cuba in decades, and it is a reversal of the hard line taken by PresidentGeorge W. Bush. It comes as Mr. Obama is preparing to meet later this week in Trinidad and Tobago with Latin American leaders, who want him to normalize relations with Cuba and its leader,Raúl Castro.

Stolberg and Cave actually quoted dictator (um, "former Cuban president") Fidel Castro to suggest that by not lifting the trade embargo, Obama had not gone far enough:

Former Cuban PresidentFidel Castroresponded in a column published later Monday that the easing of restrictions toward Cuba did not go far enough, saying that real change in the relationship between the two countries would only come if Washington lifted its long-standing trade embargo.

Mr. Castro's response appeared on the Web site of Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party, The Associated Press reported. In the announcing the easing of restrictions, "not a word was said about the blockade, which is the cruelest of measures," he wrote.

In Times-land, it's not the Communist Castro regime that's hard line, but anti-Communist Americans who support the embargo:

Those who still support the Bush hard line denounced the decision. The Cuban government charges hefty fees on remittances, and critics like Representatives Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Florida Republicans and brothers who are Cuban-Americans, said Mr. Obama was making a "serious mistake" that would effectively put millions of dollars into the hands of the Castro regime.

Yet those old animosities are giving way to an emerging interest in dialogue that is working in Mr. Obama's favor, both in Washington and Florida.

In Miami, the conservative old guard could still be found. On Radio, a Spanish-language station that often acts as a megaphone for Cuban-American conservatives, Ninoska Pérez Castellón, a popular host, echoed the concerns of the Diaz-Balarts.